With a diverse line-up and a large variety of food and entertainment on offer, Lollapalooza Paris successfully embraced that most famous of French customs: laissez-faire.
Day One – Saturday 20th July
You could tell that it wasn’t Lollapalooza Paris’ first rodeo, nor was it that of the French festival goer. Yet although Parisians and other Frenchies from further afield made up most of the numbers, the international attendees were well catered for. Information was provided in both French and English on the website, including how to get to the festival, and when in doubt, you could follow the mass of people walking from the metro stops or shuttle buses in the direction of the festival at the Hippodrome ParisLongchamp. What better way to walk to a festival than by French boulangeries and patisseries and be greeted by early-morning joggers making use of the nature trails around the extensive hippodrome. You could just as well have been on a walking tour of the French countryside sipping wine (which, of course, there was a whole marquee dedicated to at the festival). Along with the “Cashless” system of paying (you were issued with a bracelet and chip on entering the festival which you could top up) and the way they charged a small fee for cups which you could then return in exchange for money in order to reduce waste, they certainly knew what they were doing.
Gus Dapperton was the very first act to grace Main Stage 1 at Lolla’, and he didn’t disappoint. With the crowd slowly filling in, Gus played many of his older singles as well as a couple of the new tracks from debut album Where Polly People Go to Read. After seeing him perform with his band at Engine Rooms back in February 2019, his keys player has since taken on more duties besides her constant supply of groovy dance moves to rival Gus’ and the occasional sing-along. Her more pop/R&B-ready voice was the perfect match to Gus’ indie pop verging on 60s rock vocal (he’s been known to nail a cover of ‘Twist and Shout’ by The Beatles) and the harmonies they added to many of the songs again proved the transcendental nature of Gus’ bedroom pop. His top came off early on in the set to compensate not for the sun but more for those signature dance moves. Hopping and flexing around the stage, taking turns dancing and guitar playing to add another layer of sound, the rest of the band took part in the fun too. Any set featuring a bass solo (during final song ‘World Class Cinema’) has got to be a win.
Fellow American Jaden Smith also made an appearance at Lolla’ further into the day on the Alternative Stage. The young rapper and singer/songwriter more than held his own throughout the downpour and provided a sweet repertoire of his own impressive and insatiable dance moves. It was just him, the stage and the pieces of his dyed-pink hair littering it that he’d shaved mid-set. A huge screen behind him displayed his music videos that he incorporated into his set, featuring American desert, fast cars and ambulance rides. Cinematic in style and narratively strong, Jaden didn’t rely on them but rather used them and fed off of them as a multimedia art form. And finishing with ‘Icon’ could only mean performing Jackson’s iconic moonwalk. Still not sure why he shaved his head though.
By far the most impressive stage in terms of sheer size and technical rigging had to be Perry’s (named after the founder of Lollapalooza Chicago Perry Farrell of the band Jane’s Addiction). It was EDM central and was constantly packed and covered by a haze of fog and psychedelic light displays. Entering under its canopy and you were transported to a suburban warehouse with speakers up to here that provided a solid wall of sound.
At the other end of the musical spectrum, indie rock/pop band Kodaline’s set on Main Stage 1 was just as emotional as you might think. Most of the acts, if they weren’t French, had charmingly had a little go to speak the native lingo, and lead singer Steve Garrigan was no different. A little less lacklustre than usual, ‘All I Want’, ‘High Hopes’, ‘Honest’ and ‘Love Like This’ all made their obligatory appearances.
The last part of the night became a wet and sweaty blur of flashing lights, pyrotechnics, rain and fireworks as we moved from Twenty One Pilots on Main Stage 1 to Main Stage 2 for Martin Garrix. The two-pronged main stage setup worked well, and as one set finished and the other began, people moved en masse between the stages. From the alternative pop/rock duo to the young Dutch DJ, the two acts performed non-stop sets. Both proclaimed their love for Paris (as was the general sentiment du jour) and thrived from the Lollapalooza crowd’s energy.
Unsurprisingly, the French sweet tooth was well catered for, with sweets, crepes, churros, ice-cream and waffles available as well as all your usual festival grub. You could play arcade games; attend a silent disco in a derelict barn hidden in the trees; do your very own stage dive courtesy of Vans; take pictures under the Eiffel Tower (no, not that one) and use some really cracking toilet facilities. And then there was Lollapalooza Planet and Lollapalooza Chef, where you could, among other things, make and don your very own flower crown – with the proceeds going to charity – or watch a culinary whiz turn up the heat in an already-hot kitchen to rustle up the perfect festival street food. Overall, day one provided a wonderful concoction of genres and a diverse array of entertainment and food.
Lollapalooza Paris will return to Hippodrome ParisLongchamp on 18th and 19th July 2020.